Welcome to our new Payments Insights newsletter, a morning email with the top news and analysis on the digital payments industry, produced by BI Intelligence.
THE FUTURE OF PAYPAL PAYMENTS FROM THE NRF’S “BIG SHOW.” The National Retail Federation is holding its annual trade show this week and PayPal is there showcasing its plans for payments in 2014.
Here is a quick rundown of what’s in store:
- Seamless checkout: similar to Amazon’s new third-party merchant “Log-in and Pay with Amazon” feature, PayPal is building a system for merchants that will allow consumers to pay for goods without leaving the retailer’s site and without having to create a new account.
- Beacons: As we detailed in a recent report, Bluetooth LE beacons have huge implications for mobile payments and mobile commerce alike. PayPal has already begun testing its beacon technology in retail stores in the U.S. and Australia. The beacons can be used to accept hands-free smartphone payments, which can save customers time otherwise spent in checkout lines.
- Payment Code expands: PayPal’s “Payment Code” allows users to pay with PayPal for goods at bricks-and-mortar points of sales by scanning QR codes or entering a code on their phones if a point of sale isn’t available. The company says that it will expand this service beginning in February to merchants that use Discover and retail point-of-sale company MICROS. (PayPal)
While the company is all in on bricks-and-mortar mobile payments, it’s not too hot on NFC. “Instead of swiping or using a PIN pad, they’re tapping. How is that really better? How is that changing your life? People don’t want that,” said PayPal’s President David Marcus in a recent interview. (PayPal)
PAYMENTS PREDICTIONS FOR 2014. If the future of PayPal leaves you wanting to know more about the future of payments, you can check out BI Intelligence’s top 10 predictions for 2014 here. (Business Insider)
A NEW PRIVATE SHARE OFFERING PUTS SQUARE AT $US5 BILLION. The valuation is based off a private tender offer of $US1 million shares at $US135.28, according to Payment’s Source’s anonymous sources. To give an idea of growth, Square was valued at $US3.25 billion in August 2012. Square’s workforce is growing quickly as well, from 400 employees at the beginning of 2014 to 700 employees in just over a year. The company also announced that it was processing $US15 billion in payments annually in May 2013, not including payments made at Starbucks. We wouldn’t be surprised if Square announces an IPO later this year. (Payment Source)
MICROSOFT AND VANTIV TEAM UP TO TAKE PAYMENTS MOBILE. Payment processor Vantiv is partnering with Microsoft to offer new payments solutions across payment channels, including mobile points of sale, according to a press release form the company. Microsoft’s role in the deal will be to provide cloud-connected payments information, allowing merchants to gain new insights about their customers. As payments continue to blur the line between bricks-and-mortar commerce and e-commerce we expect to see more partnerships of this nature. (Vantiv)
CANADA IS TESTING A GOVERNMENT-BACKED DIGITAL CURRENCY. This week, the Royal Canadian Mint will announce further details on MintChip, a digital currency similar to Bitcoin, first announced in 2012. Unlike Bitcoin, MintChip transactions are limited in the amount of value that can be transferred. This makes it a potential replacement for petty cash and change. At the same time, it limits the digital currency’s potential for large-scale nefarious uses like money laundering. (Toronto Star)
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RETAIL BANKS NEED A UBIQUITOUS SOLUTION FOR PEER-TO-PEER PAYMENTS. There are quite a few peer-to-peer payments apps out there, many of which are from non-banking third parties, like Google Wallet and Square Cash. But many consumers prefer to use their own banks for peer-to-peer payments. The problem? Money transfer apps from banks are not capable of transferring money to all of the large retail banks. This makes sending money to a friend or family member that uses a different bank frustrating or impossible. A way to resolve this problem is for retail banks to partner with one another to provide a catch-all solution (American Banker)
TARGET WASN’T THE ONLY COMPANY TO SUFFER A DATA BREACH OVER THE HOLIDAYS. Hackers may have practiced their techniques on three smaller retailers before hitting Target over the holidays, according to a report from Reuters. Dallas-based luxury retail store Neiman Marcus also admitted to suffering a data breach after the company’s payment processor found evidence of unsolicited transactions. The extent of the breach is not yet clear. (Reuters)
TOP DEMOCRATS ARE CALLING FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE TARGET BREACH. In a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, 17 House Democrats requested a hearing to investigate the breach that may have affected up to 110 million consumers. The hearing could lead to legislation that would govern when and what information must be disclosed to consumers in the event of a breach. (American Banker)
BITCOIN UTOPIANS DOUBTED. Bitcoin is not going to save the unbanked, argues Bloomberg’s Brendan Greeley. Globally, there are about 2.5 billion people who don’t have bank accounts, and this makes it difficult for these people to save money and build credit histories. Proponents of Bitcoin have argued that the digital currency could solve this problem because all you need to get a Bitcoin wallet — which can serve as a bank account — is an Internet connection. Nonetheless, Greeley argues that there are many barriers that would prevent the unbanked from using Bitcoin or any digital currency for that matter — aversion to new technology, illiteracy, and disinterest to name a few. We too think the more optimistic expectations for Bitcoin are a bit overblown. Still, variations on digital currency have taken off in countries with high populations of the unbanked. For example, in Kenya over 15 million people use M-Pesa, a virtual currency developed by Vodafone. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
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